The 2011 NFL draft is now officially over, and its time to take a look at what the Packers did. Over the next couple of weeks, fans and analysts alike will sit in front of their computers and grade each team’s draft class; in my opinion this is completely absurd for two reasons.
For one, these players haven’t played a single snap in the NFL yet and no one knows exactly how these players are going to pan out; if anyone did the draft would be a pretty boring affair.
And second, the inherent flaw in grading is that it’s based on a big board typically made by an analyst or the fans themselves. There are only a few people privy to the actual boards of the 32 teams, and I’m willing to bet that none of the boards you see online are even remotely close to the real things.
Nevertheless, one fact that must be true is that every team drafts with a logical purpose; whether drafting purely on talent, athleticism, speed, need or value, it would be simply foolish for a team to draft a player without an idea of what to do with him and how that player fits into the team. With that in mind, in the following article I hope to analyze what the Packers were thinking when they drafted each player.
- The retooling of the defense is basically complete: Teams set a tone with the players they draft and this year it was all about giving Aaron Rodgers more help. Many people have forgotten that the Packers are only two years removed from completely changing their defensive scheme from a 4-3 bump and run scheme under Bob Sanders to a 3-4 zone blitz scheme under Dom Capers.The 2009 and 2010 drafts were very defensive heavy, with BJ Raji and Clay Matthews III being drafted in the 1st round in 2009 and Mike Neal and Morgan Burnett being taken in the 2nd and 3rd round in 2010. This was simply based on the fact that many of the players acquired pre-2009 weren’t ideal for a 3-4 defense (such as DE/OLB Aaron Kampman). In comparison, the 2011 draft was definitely an offensive draft, with the first 3 picks on the offense and 4 offensive skill positions being addressed overall.
- Each pick replaces a player: One of the first things that should be considered is that every draft pick usually steals a roster spot from another player. This draft is no different with every pick having a pretty clear player targeted. Thompson has used his picks to either draft replacements for players who are likely to retire or leave the team via free agency or to increase the depth behind definite starters.
- Outside Linebacker was apparently not that important: Most people were expecting the Packers to take a shot at a premier pass rusher in the early rounds, with Brooks Reed, Justin Houston and Akeem Ayers being mentioned as high as the 32nd overall pick. The Packers felt otherwise apparently, as their only pick at outside linebacker was probably Ricky Elmore in the 6th round. It would appear if the Packers were content to see what results between the 4-way battle of Brad Jones, Frank Zombo, Erik Walden and Ricky Elmore; hopefully one becomes the next James Harrison.
Tomorrow, I’ll delve deeper into each draft choice and the rationale for each selection.
Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.